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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 5:52 p.m., Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New ATV area opens on the Big Island

Advertiser Staff

HILO, Hawai'i — The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has opened a new area for all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve, the second area designated on the Big Island for off-highway vehicles.

DLNR's Division of Forestry and Wildlife and ATV Riders of Hawai'i worked together to identify suitable roads that can accommodate responsible riding, and will post signs so users will know where riding is allowed and where it is prohibited.

The project grew out of the growing popularity of ATVs and dirt bikes, which led to growing numbers of riders in the forest reserve who did not know where riding is allowed and where it is banned.

The riding area consists of two Jeep roads known as R-10 or Skyline Road, and R-1, or the Na Ala Hele Mauna Kea Access Road.

The total length one way is 40.4 miles, and users can ride in both directions. The roads offer varying terrain and some of the most spectacular views in the state. The trail will circumnavigate Mauna Kea mountain following elevations ranging from 7,000 feet to 10,000 feet.

Riders are not allowed to ride on any side roads or trails, and are responsible for knowing the areas that are open. A missing sign will not relieve a rider of this responsibility, state officials said.

Before hitting the trail riders must obtain a permit from the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and complete a liability waiver agreement. The forms are available at the DOFAW office in Hilo at 19 E. Kawili St. and in Waimea at 66-1220-A Lalamilo Road.

Riders must carry the off-road permits, except for hunters with a valid hunting license who are actually hunting. The permit will include a map that clearly shows where riding is authorized.

For more information on riding preparedness tips, safe road habits and emergency protocol, call the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hilo office at (808) 974-4221.